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This 57 message thread spans 2 pages: 57 ( [1] 2 > >     
Dashes are better than Underscores ...
... between keywords in file names.
skyhawk133




msg:727800
 8:56 pm on Apr 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

In a guest post by Vanessa Fox on Matt Cutt's blog, Vanessa points out dashes are much better than underscores. Matt later bolds this line in the blog entry for emphasis.

I had not thought about this, but apparently blue_widgets.html is considered 1 word, where as blue-widgets.html is considered 2 words. So for multi-word titles used as static HTML names, it looks like using a hyphen is far better than using an underscore. A brief look at the SERPS does confirm this.

 

tedster




msg:727801
 10:46 pm on Apr 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yes, and this was mentioned again in a Boston PubCon panel this week. Matt Cutts first mentioned it at a London PubCon several years ago -- and at the time clear examples from DMOZ were rather easy to find, since DMOZ uses underbars extensively in their page names and sometimes those keywords do not appear on the actual page.

Since then, DMOZ changed the way their breadcrumb trail is coded, so now the keywords that come from the url are not connected by underbars. That change made this point harder to prove (and the DMOZ pages easier to find), except that we have Matt's confirmation so there no longer should be any debate,.

g1smd




msg:727802
 10:55 pm on Apr 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Avoid underscores. They are not seen as being separate words by search engines (and the underscore visually disappears in underlined links).

Avoid spaces as these get changed to %20 which makes things%20very%20hard%20to%20read%20indeed.

Hyphens are a good idea, but dots, commas, and colons work just as well. In fact, visually, I prefer dots, like: www.domain.com/folder/sub.folder/this.page.html.

sniffer




msg:727803
 12:33 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

They are not seen as being separate words by search engines

then why are they bolded in the serps im looking at right now?

Rightz




msg:727804
 12:48 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I thought hyphens in a domain name was a BIG no no?

BillyS




msg:727805
 1:58 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>I thought hyphens in a domain name was a BIG no no?

Not true, even Matt posted a response to a question like this...

Search for something like - We donít use hyphens as a spam signal.

Also discussed here:

[webmasterworld.com...]

Rightz




msg:727806
 2:28 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Right.

When I asked on here a while ago it was suggested that:

www.keyword-keyword.com

wasn't as good as:

www.keyword4keyword.com

I bought the later, although I prefered the former based on their opinions.

(Both keywords described my site well so I didn't consider it spamming)

It seems like decisions on here are extrememly split on the item of using hypens in domains.

jdMorgan




msg:727807
 3:03 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

They are not seen as being separate words by search engines

then why are they bolded in the serps im looking at right now?

Google changed their parser some time ago. But Google is not the only search engine, and may not remain the dominant search engine forever (AltaVista was king just a few years ago, and where are they now?)

I thought hyphens in a domain name was a BIG no no?

a-long-keyword-stuffed-domain-name-with-many-hyphens.com would surely send up a flag if your site was a candidate for a hand review. Not very easy to type-in, either.

There is no single correct answer to these questions, but you can either try to stay in the safe zone by using hyphens rather than underscores in URLs because they have been handled correctly by all major search engines for a much longer time, and limiting your use of hyphens in domain names to one or two, or you can take risks by going outside of the lines. The answer is different depending on whether you have a branded domain name that you want to use forever, or a large collection of 'disposable' domain names, with no need for branding or long-term survival.

Jim

reseller




msg:727808
 3:58 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Dashes vs. underscores .. BY Matt Cutts

Hi Folks

Here is a very relevant thread which Matt posted on his own blog at August 25, 2005, which you might find of interest.
<snip>

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 12:47 am (utc) on April 23, 2006]
[edit reason] please - no blog links and absolutly NO copied in content on this system. [/edit]

tedster




msg:727809
 3:59 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

why are they bolded in the serps im looking at right now

I've looked hard at that question. In my view, the bolding on the SERPs page is a character matching routine, added as a final layer at page creation time to help users see their keywords in the results. But the fact that a character string is bold is not tied to the scoring algorithm itself.

jdMorgan




msg:727810
 4:07 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

> ...the bolding on the SERPs page is a character matching routine, added as a final layer at page creation time to help users see their keywords in the results. But the fact that a character string is bold is not tied to the scoring algorithm itself.

I agree completely.

Jim

WW_Watcher




msg:727811
 4:48 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I just do not understand the logic of treating them differently. A dash is a seperator, and an underscore is a seperator, and IMHO, they should be treated the same.

Back to watching
WW_Watcher

tedster




msg:727812
 4:55 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

It may not be logical (except to programmers) but it is baked into the Google code way down deep. Ignore at your own risk.

There are also some purely user friendly reasons I don't use underbars in page names. For instance, if the link is underlined, the underbar character can be hard to notice. Also it can be nearly impossible to communicate over the phone. I like keeping things simple, and "dash" is simple.

Parallel issues can come with the tilde [webmasterworld.com].

pageoneresults




msg:727813
 5:06 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

And the underscore visually disappears in underlined links.

Case in point, the title of this topic. ;)

In Firefox, the underscore is totally hidden and looks like a space. IE actually provides a bit more of a visual clue that there is an underscore there.

WW_Watcher




msg:727814
 5:15 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hey Tedster,
Don't get me wrong, In the future I will not ignore it, and I will stop using underscores to seperate discriptive names for my files. When creating links in my pages, I do not use the filename, I do not use the underscores, so it was not an issue.

But that does not change my view that it is easier to read a filename with underscores (because it looks more like spaces), and IMHO think the search engines should look at filenames and read them in a fashion that searchers do.

Unfortunately, common sense does not always go along with intelligence.

Back to watching
WW_Watcher

jdMorgan




msg:727815
 5:36 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you read the exerpt from Matt's blog above, the reasoning was clear -- to allow techies like us to search for HTTP_USER_AGENT and not have to sort through millions of results containing "HTTP", "user", and "agent." While this may not be the decision you or I would make (I'd try a quoted search string if the irrelevant results were too numerous), it's the one their techies made.

Jim

g1smd




msg:727816
 6:49 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Did I say that I like using URLs with dots in them like www.domain.com/some.folder/the.sub.folder/some.file.html instead?

That also works very well too.

mattg3




msg:727817
 7:13 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

If I look for Main Page in what I have google.co.uk

I get the default Wikipedia but as second result I get eclipse, which doesn't even have the word Main Page on the page nor in the source nor in the document in the cache.

Next one is MTV claiming to have Main and Page somewhere in the text. After the third redirect I find Main, and page as part of a longer javascript word.

then several other big sites obviously given a hand coded PR, none featuring Main Page

Only on page two I start having pages actually containing the words close together.

Serious hand PR delivery there...

On a search for Main_Page I get the expected list of Wikis.

Pretty clear demonstration of above.

southernmost




msg:727818
 8:10 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've noticed that on my sites, the pages using underscores in the file names haven't ranked as well as I would have expected. Most of the pages use a dash and rank as expected.
Upon searching using mykeyword_mykeyword I find that the page is ranking fine.
Should I change the underscore page names from mykeyword_mykeyword.html to mykeyword-mykeyword.html?
And what about the external links using the underscore version?
Is this where a 301 is used? Or should I just create another page, leave the old page on the server, and change the navigation to point at the new page? (probably not, since it would be duplicate content).

jdMorgan




msg:727819
 8:35 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

mattg3,

Do a search for "googlebombing" -- that will neatly explain your results. You can get a page ranked highly for "whales," even though it's about albatrosses, simply by using the word "whales" in the link text of a lot of links that point to the albatross page. Those pages you found probably have a lot of links pointing to them with link text like "MTV's Main Page." (This subject is off-topic to the thread at hand, so you might want to start a new one on link text if you have questions).

southernmost,

> Upon searching using mykeyword_mykeyword I find that the page is ranking fine.
Assuming that you are searching for pages whose URLs contain mykeyword_mykeyword, that's no surprise in light of the info posted above.

> Should I change the underscore page names from mykeyword_mykeyword.html to mykeyword-mykeyword.html?
Yes.

> And what about the external links using the underscore version?
Get as amny updated as you can, and...

> Is this where a 301 is used?
Yes. 301-redirect the old URLs to the new.

> Or should I just create another page, leave the old page on the server, and change the navigation to point at the new page? (probably not, since it would be duplicate content).

The old pages will become inaccessible once you 301 their URLs to the new pages, so take them down or leave them -- it won't matter to search engines or visitors.

Jim

ZoltanTheBold




msg:727820
 11:07 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

In my view, the bolding on the SERPs page is a character matching routine, added as a final layer at page creation time to help users see their keywords in the results. But the fact that a character string is bold is not tied to the scoring algorithm itself.

Can't this process then be done on the way in, not just the way out? If they can character match for display purposes why can't they do so for ranking and scoring?

In other words if there's evidence that they can discern the use of underscores in text, why wouldn't they attempt to fold this into their ranking to reflect the way actual humans use it (i.e. interchangeable with other punctuation like dashes)?

Brett_Tabke




msg:727821
 12:47 am on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Remember, dashes can be in domain names - underscores can not. Think about it.

Asia_Expat




msg:727822
 1:34 am on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Interesting to read this.
Only yesterday, I created some new content for my site and used underscores in the directory names and filenames. In view of what I read here, I hurriedly changed them to dashes, hopefully before they have been indexed.
However, after reveiwing SERPS for various keywords and all of my competitors, I see no evidence that it makes a squat of difference. I have made the change for safety more than anything.

WW_Watcher




msg:727823
 2:31 am on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ok, I changed the filenames(following G1smd's advice on the dotted naming convention) on the smaller of my two sites(a very new site with very little traffic), and put in 301 redirects for the pages that had been indexed by the big 3 search engines(about 50 entries in .htaccess).

I am debating on changing some of the filenames on my other site, but that would involve about 300 or so web pages that might do better if I rename them, replacing the underscores with periods. I do pretty well in my niche, and hate to risk loosing our current rankings.

So my first question is, how many 301 redirects in .htaccess is too many. All I have in it currently is the lines for the non-www to www redirects. This site(sells widgets for my brick & mortor store) gets about 5,000 uniques a day. (about 1600 referrals from G A day, 230 from Y & about 100 from MSN, most of the rest are from people coming in directly). How much additional load, or bandwidth would be used by approx 300 additional lines of 301 redirects.

Second question, is it even wise to rename pages that top the serps for the targeted keywords for those pages, or should I proceed in the future with the dotted naming convention as I create new pages with new products? I have always been a fan of the saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"

Back to Watching
WW_Watcher

mattg3




msg:727824
 3:04 am on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

I use regex stuff like this. No need for many lines.

RewriteEngine On

RedirectMatch permanent /useless.old.directory.still.in.searchengine(.*)$ http://www.example.com/

RedirectMatch permanent
/movedtoanotherpath/(.*)$ http://www.example.com/newpath/$1

I also use a webserver to do the example.com and www.example.com redirect and all it does is.

RewriteEngine On
RedirectMatch permanent ^(.*)$ www.example.com$1

I have none of what people here call, I think, canonical issues.

WW_Watcher




msg:727825
 3:27 am on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hey MattG3, I would not want to redirect to the root(provided I understand those redirects), I like that searchers find what they are looking for, and they do not have to go looking for the page that they had bookmarked, or selected in the serps. The pages exist in possibly 80 to 100 different subdirectories. I sell custom widget parts, and have that many different types & styles of each of the parts. I would only be renaming pages, not changing their location.

I have about convinced myself to leave well enough alone, and just create all new pages with the dotted naming convention as I move forward.

Thanks!
Back to watching
WW_Watcher

jdMorgan




msg:727826
 3:30 am on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

An OT technical note:

RedirectMatch is an Apache mod_alias directive. As such, there is no need to use mod_rewrite's RewriteEngine on directive with it.

And if you do use mod_rewrite directives, then a single RewriteEngine on at the top of the file will suffice.

Back on-topic, the use of keyword-in-URL is a small factor in ranking a site for those keywords. If your pages are already on top, and if you already have many on-topic links with those keywords in the link-text, don't bother to change existing pages.

Jim

Asia_Expat




msg:727827
 3:40 am on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

So, is there any advantage to dots as opposed to dashes? <headache />

Asia_Expat




msg:727828
 3:41 am on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

... apart from aesthetics.

sniffer




msg:727829
 3:45 am on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Its worth noting that 'My-product' is misuse of the dash in everday language and doesnt read well IMO because you have to actively decide to ignore the original purpose of the dash when reading the page names. I suppose thats a vote for 'My.product' -

I wonder if the dot technique any noticeable affect on ranking

This 57 message thread spans 2 pages: 57 ( [1] 2 > >
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